yad yad acarati sresthas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
Whatever actions a great personality performs is accepted by the common people as the path to follow as they look up to these people in positions of leadership, royalty and fame etc. for inspiration. So whatever a prominent member of society postulates, whether it is Vedic or concocted, the ignorant will undoubtedly follow. It is also a fact that in modem times people do not have much inclination towards spiritualism, in spite of a lot of preaching mainly due to the fact that preachers themselves, do not practise, what they preach.
Common people who attach importance to wealth and position, follow the examples set by millionaires and leaders, regarding them as great, though they may not be really so. The rich people and leaders, resort to evil practices such as falsehood, forgery, dishonesty, thefts and corruption, to gain riches, fame and status in society. The common people, who consider them great, follow those evil practices. Thus, evils become rampant in the society. Great and noble men, such as teachers, preachers, priests, leaders and rulers etc., who hold positions of honour in society, should perform their duties very carefully, so that they may leave a good impression upon the common people, who may follow the standards.
na me parthasti kartavyam
trisu lokesu kincana
varta eva ca karmani
There is nothing in the three worlds, O Arjuna, that is for me to do, nor is there anything unattained, that should be achieved; yet I engage Myself, in action.
As the compartments of a train attached to an engine, follow the engine, similarly the Lord and the saints (who have nothing to do and nothing more to attain), perform their duty and other people follow them. Common people have a desire to act and to attain, something or the other. They can get rid of this desire by performing their duty, without expecting any reward. If the Lord and the saints did not perform their duty, the people would also follow their path, and they would become indolent and heedless and would perform forbidden actions. So they would not get rid of desires. Therefore, duty is automatically performed by the Lord and the saints, for the welfare of the whole humanity.
If wanted Lord Krishna could have taken the entire universe by himself, yet he worked very hard, even as the charioteer to support the righteous people, setting an example for others to follow. A CEO of a company has reached the highest position that can be attained, yet he has to work hard to set example for others to follow.
yadi hy aham na varteyam
jatu karmany atandritah
manusyah partha sarvasah
For, if I did not engage in work, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path.
Leader’s lives have to be an example for others to emulate. By saying that if He does not act the world will follow suit, Krishna means that the mortals will not be guided towards the right path and will destroy themselves pursuing the sensual pleasure with no restraint. No one will be interested in doing anything but expect results without working for it. When Lord Krishna took birth, seemingly as a human being, as the son of the great righteous King Vasudeva, he conducted Himself in all ways and manners as appropriate for his position in society as a prince of the royal Kshatriya or warrior class. If Lord Krishna acted otherwise all mankind would begin to imitate Him thinking that such actions were virtuous.
Common man set their standards by following celebrities, so are employees of an organization by observing their managers.
utsideyur ime loka
na kuryam karma ced aham
sankarasya ca karta syam
upahanyam imah prajah
If I should cease to work, then all these worlds would be put to ruination. I would also be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all sentient beings.
The Lord answers Arjuna’s question, “Why do You urge me to engage in this terrible action?” by citing His own example that He engages Himself in action even though He has nothing to attain in the three worlds. Therefore, Lord urges Arjuna to be engaged in action. The whole universe work through certain principle and rhythm and one can never observe chaos or lawlessness in the cosmos.
saktah karmany avidvamso
yatha kurvanti bharata
kuryad vidvams tathasaktas
As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, similarly the learned may also act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.
All actions of wise men are naturally performed for the welfare of the world. They have also no egoistic notion, that they are engaged in the welfare of others. As a licentious person is attached to sensual pleasures, the greedy to riches and an infatuated one to the family, the wise are engrossed, in the welfare of all beings, naturally and without any egoistic feeling. Because of the total renunciation of affinity, for the materialistic world, their so-called bodies, senses, minds and intellects etc., are inclusive of the term ‘loka’ (world) used in the expression, ‘lokasangraha’ (welfare of the world). An ignorant person performs action to reap its fruit, a wise man is neither attached to the fruit of action, nor has any duty to perform. So, it is possible for him to be indifferent to action. Therefore, the Lord directs him to act, without attachment.